ADT vs. Ring Alarm Review

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Best Budget Buy
Mindy Woodall
Managing Editor, Home Security & Smart Home
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December 28, 2020
3 min read

As home security systems go, ADT and Ring Alarm could not be more different. ADT is the oldest name in home security. Everyone’s going to recognize the logo on your yard sign. Ring is more of a scrappy, start-up-turned-Amazon product. Ring: you install yourself. ADT: the professionals install for you.

The differences extend to the price too. ADT is expensive. Really expensive. Whereas Ring has the cheapest professional monitoring prices we’ve seen. From anyone. Ever.

ADT and Ring Alarm comparison

CompanyADTRing Alarm
Monitoring price range$36.99–$62.99/mo.$0–$10/mo.
Installation typeProfessionalDIY
Installation fee$99–$199None
Contract length36 mos.No contract
Contract cancellation fee75% of remaining contractN/A
Smart home integrationsZ-Wave, Google Assistant, Amazon Alexa*Z-Wave, Google Assistant, Amazon Alexa
Starter kit priceUnknown$199
Mobile app controlYes**Yes
Learn more

Data effective 2/7/2020. Offers subject to change.
* Smart home support not available with all monitoring plans.
** Mobile app control not available with all monitoring plans.

What we like about ADT

ADT indoor camera on a table

ADT has been around for a long time (over a century), which is probably why everyone knows the name. If you did an on-the-street-style interview and asked everyone in sight to name one home security company, we’d bet our life savings ADT would be the first name out of everyone’s mouths.

That name recognition isn’t for nothing. The whole goal of a home security system is to never have to use it. If your yard sign alone can deter potential burglars from giving your house a shot, then ADT has done its job.

Plus, ADT’s system has full smart home support and professionally installed equipment. This isn’t a DIY setup over here. Nah, the pros will do everything for you.

What we like about Ring Alarm

Ring Alarm equipment

Ring Alarm is a bit of a new kid on the block. The system debuted in 2018, which means it’s like 100 years younger than ADT. But Ring is the system of the people—you don’t have to spend a fortune on equipment, and you can set up everything yourself.

And when we say you don’t have to spend a fortune, we mean it. Ring has just about the most affordable equipment and professional monitoring pricing we’ve ever seen. And if you don’t want to spring for professional monitoring, then you can monitor the system yourself for free through the Ring mobile app.

Plus, Ring still gives you cool tech features like Z-Wave support for all your smart home devices.

ADT and Ring Alarm pros comparison

Pro Bullet Recognizable name
Pro Bullet Good smart home support
Pro Bullet Reliable monitoring
Ring Alarm
Pro Bullet Affordable equipment
Pro Bullet Free self-monitoring
Pro Bullet DIY installation

What we don’t like about ADT

ADT is not for the budgetary faint of heart. It has the most expensive professional monitoring prices of any other alarm system we review. And it’s hard to say how much you’ll spend on equipment, for three reasons:

  1. ADT doesn’t advertise its equipment prices anywhere. We can’t even tell you how much a basic starter kit costs because we don’t know. Every time we’ve asked, we’ve been told that “it depends.” So take that as you will.
  2. ADT isn’t just a single company. It uses a network of third-party contractors and distributors, and those third-parties can have different pricing from ADT corporate.
  3. You don’t actually know your final equipment price until the day your system gets installed. You can add or remove sensors and devices the day of, so the price won’t be final until you sign on the dotted line.

Suffice it to say, ADT is a bit complicated. And it has a few holdovers of traditional home security companies that we don’t love, like three-year contracts with hefty cancellation fees.

What we don’t like about Ring Alarm

Ring’s system might be tech-forward, but it doesn’t always look it. Its security sensors are a bit clunky. For example, its door and window sensors are bigger than average so you’ll likely notice them more. (If you’re particularly worried about aesthetics, we recommend Nest Secure instead.)

There’s also the issue of Ring’s cameras. Ring makes some pretty great cameras, actually. They’re way better than ADT’s. But there have been some huge security concerns with Ring cameras lately that make us reluctant to recommend them.1,2

ADT and Ring Alarm cons comparison

Con Bullet Expensive monitoring plans
Con Bullet Hidden equipment pricing
Ring Alarm
Con Bullet Security concerns with Ring cameras
Con Bullet Clunky aesthetic

Which one should you choose?

If you want a reliable, professionally installed security system with tech-forward features (and you don’t mind paying extra for it), then ADT is a solid choice. If you want a budget-friendly security system with simple equipment but good smart home support, then Ring Alarm will be kind to your wallet.

Want to learn more?

Want to compare some other home security options? Check out our other reviews.

Mindy Woodall
Written by
Mindy Woodall
Mindy has been writing about technology for seven years. She covers all things smart home for, and keeps track of the latest robot gadgets. Mindy attended the University of Utah and her work has been featured on the likes of, Digital Care, Hostfully, and more.

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